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“Incredibly rewarding” – Chasing a career in mental health

In a world that often shines its spotlight on bustling cities, Goulburn Valley Health’s Manager of Mental Health Triage, Lisa Scarff, decided to embark on a journey that not only transformed her career but also enriched her personal life.

Relocating from the Northern Territory to the vibrant regional town of Shepparton in Victoria, Lisa discovered a hidden gem that offered a nurturing community, diverse opportunities, and a chance to make a real difference.

“We were really fortunate to move to Shepparton. It struck us when we relocated how much of a sea change our move was. It was a change in environment, community and climate.  We didn’t know anyone here,” she said.

With a background in acute, adult and forensic mental health, Lisa has devoted her professional life and career to the field of mental health and mental health nursing.

Ms Scarff said working in the Northern Territory allowed her to broaden her expertise and knowledge in remote mental health, igniting the passion to support those in regional or rural areas.

“I have always had a passion for mental health,” she said.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to me to participate in the delivery of healthcare to vulnerable people who may not otherwise receive the healthcare they need.

“It is most rewarding for me to see people thrive and recover from mental illness in the community where I live.”

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lisa found herself yearning to be closer to her birthplace and family in New Zealand.  Travelling became a challenge from the more remote areas of Northern Australia.

Motivated by a desire for change and a better work-life balance, Lisa, along with her partner, made the life-altering decision to relocate south.

Upon arriving in Shepparton, they were immediately struck by the strong sense of community and genuine kindness of the people they encountered.

“There is a friendliness in regional Victoria that was really welcoming that made the transition really great and what struck us was the sense of community and the sense of kindness between the people we worked with or encountered day to day,” she said.

Her move provided her with a renewed perspective on healthcare delivery in a regional environment and a deeper understanding of the unique health challenges faced by these communities.

“For almost 10 years I worked in Metropolitan Melbourne before moving to the Northern Territory as a mental health nurse, so I understood metropolitan Victoria,” she said.

“But after 12 years of working in a more remote locations, I can see that there are challenges living in regional areas, in particular accessing timely healthcare, this includes mental healthcare.”

Ms Scarff’s role is key to providing high quality, evidence-based screening, assessment and treatment to assist clients to address their mental health concerns and contribute to the prevention and reduction of mental health symptoms.

Driven by her commitment to closing this gap and improving community access to mental health services, she tirelessly works towards creating a positive impact to improve relationships between tertiary and community mental health services.

“Access to specialist healthcare services can be much harder for people who live in regional areas and getting to health appointments can be a challenge for people that are not close to hospitals or health facilities,” she said.

“So, for me it’s important when working in a regional area to look at ways to reduce these access barriers for people and to improve overall community access to mental health services.

“The move has helped me understand the health impacts within this area and within this environment and I certainly feel that undertaking makes me a more well-rounded practitioner.”

Let our Mental Health Workforce Navigator help you settle in’

Jodi Viggiani is GV Health’s new Mental Health Workforce Navigator.

GV Health has several services available to assist mental health professionals relocate to the area, which includes support from the Mental Health Workforce Navigator, Jodi Viggiani.

The newly created role within the GV Health Talent Acquisition team supports prospective candidates and new recruits in the field of mental health to gain employment, relocate, settle, and integrate into GV Health and the wider Shepparton community.

Ms Viggiani works closely with the Greater Shepparton City Council and the Community Connector Program to leverage partnerships and encourage new mental health workers and their families relocating to Shepparton to live and work.

“I am here to help them form connections within our community by finding suitable accommodation, employment opportunities for their partner, and schools and educational facilities for their child,” she said.

“I can also connect them with support groups or sporting clubs.

“Greater Shepparton offers an enviable lifestyle, university options, premiere housing estates, and all the must have facilities, coupled with a vibrant and diverse culture, which makes living and working here unique.”

GV Health offers a relocation incentive of up to $20,000 for those within the eligibility criteria, assisting in their transition into the wonderful community. 

For current vacancies in mental health and to contact the Mental Health Workforce Navigator, visit the GV Health website and search for Mental Health Careers.